Mastercard Foundation to support 100,000 youngsters in Africa
The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme has supported 40,000 young people and plans to scale up to 100,000 young people, primarily in Africa, by 2030.
Launched in 2012, the programme began as a $500 million initiative to develop the next generation of leaders who would drive social and economic transformation. The programme identifies talented young people from economically disadvantaged and hard-to-reach communities, primarily in Africa, and supports their secondary and higher education as well as leadership development.
The programme which initially aimed at supporting 15,000 young people, has over the last decade, deployed $1.7 billion to benefit nearly 40,000 young people, over 72 percent of whom are young women.
To date, 18,544 young people have graduated from secondary and higher education.
“Through a network of extraordinary partners, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme is enabling thousands of bright and deserving young people to access quality education and develop as leaders who give back to their communities and help to improve the lives of others. Mastercard Foundation Scholars and Alumni are leaders and innovators; activists and entrepreneurs; tackling everything from climate change to health inequity. Their collective impact will be felt for generations to come,” said Reeta Roy, president/CEO of the Mastercard Foundation.
According to a 2020/2021 survey of a sample of alumni from the programme, 87 percent of secondary-school graduates and 71 percent of university graduates are employed.
Where alumni have become entrepreneurs, they have collectively created over 16,000 jobs.
Roy said in addition, 40 percent of university graduates say they are now supporting the education of their siblings.
The Mastercard Foundation Scholars expressed a commitment to giving back to their communities, which is a core principle of the programme. During their education, each person creates or participates in a project, which address a specific challenge in their communities.
“Throughout my journey as a Mastercard Foundation Scholar, it has always been about being a better version of yourself so that you can go back to your community and help others,” said Joanna Gunab, who is now a medical doctor practising in Northern Ghana.
Joanna, a young woman living with a disability, also runs an initiative to support students with basic school necessities.
Another Alumni of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme, Faith Kipkemboi, is driving transformation in her native Kenya. She founded a community-based organisation, Cactus Mama, to deliver evidence-based, high-quality, and affordable mental health services in remote areas, especially for women. “We hope to create a better Kenya; a healthier Kenya,” she said.
The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme began with a strong focus on secondary education, working with partners such as CAMFED, BRAC, Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), the African Leadership Academy (ALA), and the Equity Group Foundation (Wings to Fly) to provide young people with access to high school and improve completion rates —particularly for girls.